Holidays afford time for pleasures excluded from the daily grind, like going to see a movie at the theatre. This year, a film I greatly enjoyed was The King’s Speech.
The second son of King George V, the Duke of York, struggled with stammering. His angst increased as his position required him to make speeches and would not permit him to retreat from the public arena. His story became a microcosm of the situation in the state that he was eventually called upon to govern as monarch.
Working with a mentor and teacher, Lionel Logue who became his friend, the Duke of York destined to be George VI, laboured intensely with diligence and persistence to overcome the obstacles to his successfully finding his voice. He strove to articulate clearly what those he governed needed to hear from their sovereign.
He was working in a country that had in a sense lost its voice as well. The events that were taking place in Europe were a threat to the country, as Hitler prepared to dominate Europe. The premature death of his father, King George V, brought the issue of the succession to the throne of England to the fore. In addition, his brother Edward, the Prince of Wales who was heir to the throne, created great controversy in the kingdom, particularly with parliament by his relationship with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, whom he eventually married. This decision forced Edward to forfeit the throne and the mantle of leadership fell on his younger brother, who was crowned George VI.
The story of George VI, reminded me of another leader who struggled to find his voice and his confidence to lead the people that God entrusted to him as well. I think that Moses and George VI would have found they had a lot in common. Raised in a royal household, Moses grew up as the adopted grandson of the King of Egypt. The daughter of Pharaoh found him floating in a basket in the Nile. He did not anticipate that he would be in line for the throne of Pharaoh, but God used his upbringing to prepare him for leadership of the Israelites.
Like George VI, Moses struggled to be able to express his voice, and surrendered reluctantly to accepting the mantle of leadership. As the Lord provided a friend like Lionel Logue for George VI, so he provided his own brother, Aaron for Moses. The role of both of these men was crucial to the success of the leader.
George VI came to the throne at a time when Britain was in great turmoil. The experience in working through the challenges of his own struggles enabled the monarch to offer encouragement and hope to the people of his realm. He did not pretend that it was going to be easy to find their destiny, but he could offer hope because he was himself a living example of how difficulties could be overcome.
Moses also had a history of addressing challenges when he came to a position of leadership. He had a passion to address social justice and as a result found himself fleeing from his homeland of Egypt and learning to find out who he was and how he could make a genuine difference through years spent facing the challenges of finding himself while caring for sheep in the wilderness. He too had to find his voice and when he returned to Egypt, he knew who he was and what God had called him to do and was accompanied by Aaron who helped him to do it. Like the people of Britain whom George VI was called to serve, Moses faced a people who were uncertain about their future because they were uncertain of their leadership. The road ahead for them was also difficult and they needed someone who had the courage and persistence to go on in spite of the challenges.
These two stories of leaders thousands of years apart are an encouragement on an individual as well as on a societal level. Each of us has our own challenges to face as we try to find our own voice. With persistence and the help of those who God puts in our paths to help us along the way, we can overcome these challenges.
Then, as we find our voice we can encourage those around us, especially those who are looking to us for any kind of leadership. Together we will find our corporate voice and overcome whatever holds us back from becoming all that we were meant to be.
Encouragement propels us as we hear one another’s stories!